A new school year is right around the corner and it can sneak up on even the most organized and diligent parents. To make the transition from pool days to school days easy on parents and students alike, we’re providing several helpful back to school tips that you can put into practice in the weeks leading up to school and for the first weeks of the new academic year.
Back to School Tips: Before School Starts
Good physical and mental health. Schedule doctor and dental checkups early. Discuss any concerns you have over your child’s physical, emotional or psychological development with your pediatrician. Make copies of all your child’s health and emergency information for reference.
Review school information. Your mailbox may be overflowing in the next few weeks. Review the materials sent by the school as soon as they arrive. These packets include important information about each child’s teacher, room number, and school supply requirements, along with sign-ups for after-school sports and activities, school calendar dates, bus transportation, health and emergency forms, and volunteer opportunities. Mark your calendar with all important dates.
Re-establish routines. Plan to re-establish the bedtime and mealtime routines at least one week before school starts. Talk with your children about the benefits of school routines in terms of not feeling overly tired or overwhelmed by school work and activities. Add time for bedtime reading and household chores if these were suspended during the summer.
Turn off the TV. If screen time was a staple of summer entertainment, now is the time to reign it in. Encourage your child to play quiet games, do puzzles, flash cards, color, or read as early morning activities instead of watching television or playing on mobile devices. This will help ease your child into the learning process and school routine.
Visit school with your child. If your child is young or will be attending a new school, visit the school with your child. Meeting their teachers, locating their classrooms, lunchroom, etc., will help ease anxieties and also allow children to ask questions about the new environment.
Designate a homework hub. Older children should have the option of studying in their room or a quiet area of the house. Younger children usually need an area set aside in the family room or kitchen to facilitate adult monitoring, help, and encouragement.
Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes. Designate a spot for your children to place their school belongings (backpacks and lunch bags), as well as a place to put important notices and information sent home for you to see. Explain that emptying their backpack each evening is part of their responsibility, even for young children.
Back to School Tips: The First Week of School
Clear your own schedule. To the extent possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings, and extra projects during the first week of school. You want to be free to help your family acclimate to the school routine and overcome the confusion or anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year.
Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.
Leave plenty of extra time. Get into the habit of setting your alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm to wake up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups. Choose a wake-up time that gives your family plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school. Add a little extra time to compensate for reluctant risers, a lost sneaker, or other morning melt downs.
For younger children taking the bus, pin to their shirt or backpack an index card with pertinent information, including their teacher’s name and bus number, as well as your daytime contact information.
Be a partner with your child’s teacher. Convey a sincere desire to be a partner with your children’s teachers to enhance the learning experience. Let the teachers know that you are interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Be sure to attend back-to-school night and introduce yourself to the teachers. Find out how they like to communicate with parents (notes, e‐mail, or phone calls).
Get to know other school professionals. Make an effort to find out who in the school or district can be a resource for you and your children. This can include the principal and front office personnel, school psychologist, counselor or social worker, reading specialist, speech therapist, or school nurse.
Review learning goals. Talk to your children about what they will learn during the year. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects and your confidence in their ability to master the content. Reinforce the natural progression of the learning process that occurs over the school year. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.